Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Friday, 25 April, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 25 Apr 08, 05:58 PM

Guantanamo Torture Techniques:

gunatamono_bay203.jpgGuantanamo Torture Techniques:

Tonight we bring you the first ever television interview with Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver. She was the lawyer who approved interrogation techniques for use on Guantanamo Bay prisoners that were new to the military and - many would say - both morally reprehensible and illegal under international law. Diane Beaver was acting with the higher authority of the Bush administration. She was a junior advocate and was under orders. So just how far up the ladder of the Bush administration did the buck stop? We take a look at the decisions which allowed sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation and waterboarding and hear how administration officials are now wide open to an international war crimes investigation........

But first tonight,


An oil refinery is not an easy place to be spontaneous. A strike by workers may or may not be called off - in many ways, it's irrelevant: the plant itself is already in the process of shutting down. For the first time the facility will be completely closed. As a result, BP has started making preparations to close down the Forties pipeline that delivers 30% of the UK's daily oil output. The company has warned that it could take up to three weeks for the plant to get back up and running at 100% capacity.
The shutdown embodies all the concerns so often raised now about Britain's energy supplies: How secure is our energy supply? Are we too dependent on too few sources? And what effect will this have on a government - already looking shaky in the polls - if drivers decide to take matters into their own hands and fill up their cars in panic? We hope to be speaking to the energy minister Malcolm Wicks.


After Rwanda, leaders of the civilized world insisted the like would never be tolerated again. Insisted, indeed, that the international community would never stand by allowing that kind of atrocity to continue. So why have we seen five years of fighting - and 300,000 deaths - in Darfur? This evening, Robin Denselow takes stock of the African conflict the world forgot.

Do join me tonight at 10:30pm on BBC2


Torture Team by Philippe Sands

  • Newsnight
  • 25 Apr 08, 12:13 PM

book_club.jpgOn 2 December 2002 Donald Rumsfeld signed a memorandum authorising 18 techniques of interrogation not previously allowed by the United States.

In Torture Team leading QC Philippe Sands traces the life of the memorandum and examines the use of torture at Guantanamo and the US airbase at Bagram.

He also and explores issues of individual responsibility.

Extract from:
Torture Team

Deception, Cruelty and the
Compromise of Law

Published by Penguin Books

Only a few pieces of paper can change the course of history. On
Tuesday, 2 December 2002 Donald Rumsfeld signed one that did.

It was an ordinary day. The Secretary of Defense wasn't travelling.
No immediate decisions were needed on Iraq and Washington
awaited Saddam's declaration on weapons of mass destruction.

The only notable public event in the Secretary's diary for that day was the President's visit to the Pentagon to sign a Bill to put the Pentagon in funds for the next year. Signings are big, symbolic public events.

They offer an opportunity to lavish praise and on this occasion neither man showed restraint. The Secretary of Defense introduced President Bush effusively as our 'leader in the global war on terrorism'. The President thanked Mr Rumsfeld warmly, for his
candour, and for doing such a fabulous job for the American people.
gunatamono_bay203.jpgThe United States faced unprecedented challenges, Bush told a large and enthusiastic audience, and terror was one of them. The United States would respond to these challenges, and it would do so in
the 'finest traditions of valour'. And then he signed a large increase in the Defense budget.

That same day, elsewhere in the Pentagon, a less public event took place for which there was no comment, no publicity, no fanfare. With a signature and a few scrawled words Donald Rumsfeld cast aside America's international obligations and reneged on the tradition of valour to which President Bush had referred. Principles for the conduct of interrogation, dating back more than a century to President Lincoln's famous instruction of 1863 that 'military necessity does not admit of cruelty', were discarded. His approval of new and aggressive interrogation techniques would produce devastating consequences.

Prospects for Friday, 25 April

  • Newsnight
  • 25 Apr 08, 10:26 AM

Liz Gibbons is today's programme producer - here's her early email to the team.

Hi all

We have a film from Peter and Ben looking at some of the revelations about Guantanamo Bay outlined in Philippe Sands' new book: the piece includes the first ever TV interview with the lawyer who drew up plans for the use of certain interrogation techniques.

So we're looking for a lead and a third item.

What do you think? Should we take more of a look at Brown - in advance of what's likely to be a weekend of extensive newspaper analysis about the state of his leadership? Or should we use the OFT cigarettes announcement as an opportunity to look at "Rip Off Britain"?

We have the offer of an interview with the Serbian PM, who's in town. What would you want to ask him?

And I am keen to do something to mark the 5th Anniversary of the Darfur conflict. What do you think it should be?


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites